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7 Tips for Avoiding Treadmill Injury While Losing Weight

Tim Boyer's picture

Have you made the commitment to log-on those extra steps on your Fitbit by spending some time every day on a treadmill? If so, then you need to be aware that according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, tens of thousands of treadmill injuries occur each year. To help consumers stay on track with their weight loss, Consumer Reports offers 7 tips for avoiding treadmill injury to help keep you on your feet.


Whether strolling through a park or humping up an incline on a treadmill, walking for exercise is the easiest and least expensive type of exercise available for melting off those pounds. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women between the ages of 18 and 30 who walked at least four hours a week were discovered to be 44 percent more likely to lose weight in comparison to women who did not walk at all—regardless of any other type of exercise they did.

Aside from boredom—the greatest exercise killer of all, nothing trumps a temporary injury when it comes to putting an end to your weight loss plans. According to a recent online issue of Consumer Reports, “…as with any high-powered piece of equipment, operating a treadmill without setting it up properly and learning how it works can result in serious injury.”

To help minimize the risk of becoming one of the tens of thousands injured yearly on a treadmill, here is what Consumer Reports advises for keeping your exercising safe:

Treadmill Safety Tip #1: Clear the area.

According to Consumer Reports, some of the most dangerous treadmill accidents involve people who lose their footing and wind up forcibly pinned between a wall and the treadmill while the spinning tread grinds away at clothing and skin.

According to ASTM International―a standard setting organization―keep your treadmill area clear by having at least 6 1/2 feet of free space at the back of the treadmill and 1 1/2 feet at either side.

Treadmill Safety Tip #2: Use the safety key.

Think of the safety key as a kill switch that could save your life. Simply clip one end to your clothing at a workable distance for you, and relax knowing that if you do take a miss-step and start to fall that the treadmill should stop, giving you a chance to catch your footing or at least minimize the impact of your fall.

Treadmill Safety Tip #3: Straddle the deck.

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Not all treadmills start off slowly. Save yourself from an abrupt start by straddling the deck before turning on the treadmill so that you can step on safely and begin your workout.

Treadmill Safety Tip #4: Keep your head up.

It’s one of those oddities of physiology—keeping your head down and focusing on your feet and a moving tread will cause most people to lose their balance. The recommended proper way to walk on a treadmill is to keep your head up and looking forward.

Treadmill Safety Tip #5: Don’t overdo it.

Before engaging on a treadmill for the first time, it’s a good idea to get clearance from your family doctor. That said, the recommendation for a heart-healthy workout is to work toward a target heart rate of between 64 and 76 percent of maximum heart rate―which is 220 minus your age. However, if you do overdo it and begin to experience any signs or symptoms associated with heart attacks such as chest pain, left arm or jaw pain, or numbness or dizziness, then stop immediately and seek medical help right away.

Treadmill Safety Tip #6: Come to a complete stop.

When it’s time to hit the shower, be sure to take the time to let the treadmill come to a complete stop before attempting to step off. Stepping momentarily in the wrong direction under a moving surface leads to a risk of losing your balance and falling flat on your face.

Treadmill Safety Tip #7: Keep children away.

According to Consumer Reports, children between the ages of 1 and 6 sustain more injuries from treadmills than any other age group. Always remove the safety key and keep it out of reach when the treadmill is not in use as the injuries are often caused by falls leading to contusions and abrasions after the machine is “accidentally” turned on. Make it a policy is to keep children away from your home treadmill at all times.

For an informative article about treadmill use, here’s a simple treadmill trick to cut belly fat faster than usual while using a treadmill.

Reference: Consumer Reports February, 2015 “7 steps to safe treadmill use and a good workout